Why is it that the great characters of fiction and drama always, finally, elude us? Hamlet, Phaedra, Charles Foster Kane, the bums waiting for Godot, Anna Karenina, Huck Finn: they lure us on and lure us on and then they turn into Mona Lisas. Critic Eric Bentley wrote that the “enigmatic nature of great characters also carries a cosmic implication: that life is but a small light in the midst of a vast darkness.” That strikes me as profoundly true, for the great...
The remainder of this article is only available to paid subscribers.
Print subscribers to Commonweal are entitled to free access to all premium online content. Click here to purchase a print subscription, or if you’re already a print subscriber, register now for premium access.
Online-only subscriptions provide access to all premium online articles for just $34/year or $2.95/month. Click here to subscribe.